I’m a digital architect! – Column

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Architect is a profession that gets a decent amount of respect. After all they design the house you are building to live in for the rest of your life. Lately, more and more people are opting to choose an interior decorator as well, showing that people not only care for the outside, but also the inside of their homes. It’s only natural that our digitally created homes look spiffy as well. Luckily, some gamers spend a lot of time making beautiful houses and decorations for games and franchises such as ‘The Sims’. We were fortunate enough to have a chat with Sara, who loves creating houses and decorations for the latter.

FeaturedSim

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi, my name is Sara, I’m 32 years old, married, mother of two and I work part time as a store clerk. My hobbies are gaming, working out and generally just spending time with my family and friends. On the side, I also blog casually about games and most of all the Sims.

Well it seems you truly love simulation games. What made you discover your passion for said genre?

I got to know the Sims because of my mother. She bought a laptop all these years back and asked the store clerk about popular games. That’s how I came to know the Sims 2. The first thing that struck me about it was the weird language they spoke. Sounded Scandinavian. At first I fiddled around with the language options, and even though the screen text changed, the language they spoke didn’t. Only later did I find out they spoke Simlish.

Yet it seems you do not care about ‘the sims’ itself, but rather about one big feature the franchise has to offer?

Building is what I love most. I got into it rather fast, seeing I wanted to supply those little virtual people with palatial mansions! Gameplay is fun, but every time I told myself: “ok, you are going to build a house quickly, create a family, move them in and actually play the game.” Usually, I never got past the ‘build a house quickly phase’. Which is ok, since there is no wrong way to play an open sandbox game.

StepfordManor1

This sounds very time consuming. Doesn’t it cost a lot of time to build detailed houses and such?

Sure, it can take a lot of time to create something, but if you are like me, working, raising two small children and have some form of social life, (Yes, I count guild-life in World of Warcraft as social too, as many of these fine people have become real life friends.) ,you can just spend the time you have. That being said, I admit pinching off an hour of beauty sleep occasionally in favor of The Sims or certain other games.

Is there anything you wish to achieve with your hobby and/or creations?

My goal in this? This might sound cliché, but my goal is just to have fun. I get inspired by movies, series and other games to make certain structures. For instance, in The Sims 3 I have made my own version of the Normandy spaceship that featured in Mass Effect. I’ve also made the Millennium Falcon and other structures.
If you just build or create what you like, people with similar interest will take note. In my case, I was lucky enough for some of the Sims developers to take note even. This has enabled me to be invited to Gamescom and to the Maxis HQ in Redwood Shores.

You were invited by the same people that created the games?

Playing the Sims has enabled me to meet some very cool people first and foremost. People with the same passion generally make good friends. Like I mentioned before, The Sims has enabled me to travel on courtesy of EA. It started with a feature in the 2012 EA Summer Showcase. I remember the day very vividly, cause it’s the same day I gave birth to my daughter. She was asleep peacefully and I got a message from one the Sims devs. He asked me to watch their Summer showcase and gave me the link to it. So, I tune in, watch the show and what do I see? My Winterfell build, completely covered in snow. They had used my castle to announce their Seasons expansion. Safe to say I had to stifle a yell, in order not to wake the other babies in the ward.

The next year I get an email from the Dutch community manager. Hey – “Top Secret” – how would you like to visit Gamescom with us and be part of the big unveiling of The Sims 4? I didn’t believe it at first. I thought it was a spam message, but my curiosity was piqued of course. So I called the phone number to ascertain that this was indeed the Dutch community manager.

Long story short, a couple of months later I found myself at Gamescom, in the company of the Sims developers, being one of the world’s first people to get their hands on The Sims 4 “Create a Sim”. Overall, it was a very unreal experience. I had the chance to meet Simmers I talked to before from all over the world. Some of them became good friends. We wined and dined with the Sim devs who asked for our opinions and ideas. Often did I wonder, what am I doing here!

While I didn’t expect anything else, this year, I got an invitation to visit Maxis at their offices in Redwood Shores near San Francisco, again on the full courtesy of EA. A week of playing the Sims, having the devs near to fire questions and remarks at. As far as hobbies go, this one has been very kind to me. Meeting old friends and new. It has been a great ride so far!

Wow! That’s a very big achievement. I wish to thank you for sharing this with us but last but not least, do you have any other tips for creators just like yourself?

Tips for other creators? As stated before: just have fun, tell stories, build, create Sims and if you’re a Photoshop wiz, you can even create your own custom content. Of course, with the help of some third party tools. Try out crazy roofing or creating goofy Sims. Just see where this game takes you. Don’t create for other people’s approval. Someone out there is bound to like the same things as you and in that way you can connect with the community.

Well there you have it people. Be sure to keep doing what you love and perhaps it could be you that will be sitting next to the developers of your favorite games franchise in the future!

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